Monthly Archives: August 2014

Church Drift

EVERY church struggles with the tension of reaching new people and taking care of the ones already there. Churches and the people in them can drift and lose sight of the important things.  There is no perfect church or perfect way of doing church.  But every church can drift and become isolated from the world around us and lose it’s effectiveness.

When you are drifting you don’t even notice. You just wake up one day and you are in a different place

  • Relationships can be that way
  • Work can be that way
  • Finances can be that way
  • Values and character can be that way

So here are 3 things that we as a church need to fight against drifting toward:

  1. The drift toward insiders and away from outsiders.
  • Every church drifts toward this way of thinking and it’s dangerous:

o   We know our favorite songs and complain when they aren’t played – My preferences instead of what is effective in reaching other people.

o   These are our people, we take care of our own at the expense of reaching out and caring for others.

o   I have been in the same small group for 10 years instead of thinking about how to include some others in building close community and stretching myself by starting a new group.

o   We complain that we don’t know everyone anymore when the church grows, instead of celebrating that more people are connecting with God.

o   We focus on the people who are here and don’t have a passion for the people not yet here.

o   We focus on church programs or activities and not people.

o   We try to please the insiders and turn off outsiders.

o   We think we have the best children’s programs, the Best student program, the Best preaching and we stop trying to improve or innovate.

o   We stop learning and improving or changing.

How do we fight this drift?

Let’s focus more on who we want to reach, rather than who we are trying to keep.  That does not mean we don’t care about the people already here, it’s important to help everyone grow.  It’s about the main focus always being to reach more people that do not know Christ.

  • We all need to remember that Everyone spends forever somewhere, either in the presence of God in heaven or separated from him forever.
  • We have the most important mission in the world!  Therefore we should be promoting the church more than anything else.
  • The local church really is the hope of the world living and teaching the truth of Jesus Christ.
  • There are over 11 million people in Ohio and millions of them don’t go to church!
  • We can never be big enough as long there are people that don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
  1. The drift toward law and away from grace
  • The natural drift of a church and people is to have a lot of rules or policies.
  • We like to have a set of rules to follow, because it helps us to know if we are winning, improving.
  • Following the rules makes us feel good, but can also cause us to be judgmental.
  • If we are not careful our focus can become more about gaining knowledge and less about loving people.

How do we fight this Drift?

We always err on the side of Grace

  • Jesus was a perfect example for us to follow:

o   Jesus spent time with Sinners and called the religious people hypocrites.

o   Matthew was a tax collector, which was a despised position, cheating people and taking their money. Jesus asking him to follow me, he didn’t ask him to clean up his act first.

o   Jesus said in Mark 2:17, It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

  • Following rules and rituals at church is easy & comfortable.
  • Having crucial conversations, building healthy relationships and extending grace are messy, hard and uncomfortable but it’s what Jesus did.
  • We need to speak the truth in love and yet extend grace – The church should be about both truth and grace.
  • The church should be irresistible, because Jesus was irresistible.
  1. The drift toward preserving rather than advancing
  • Example: business owner…when he starts out he risks because there’s nothing to lose. The bigger the company grows the more risk-adverse he becomes.

o   Churches are the same way

o   In the beginning we had nothing but a vision, but then as we grew there is more to lose and so we become more conservative and fearful of losing what we have.

o   Jews: “we have to PRESERVE the law!”

  • But they forgot to advance the kingdom

How do we fight this drift?

Let’s remain openhanded in our attempts to advance the message of Jesus Christ

Open handed means giving freely and generously

  • So the question is what are we risking to advance the Kingdom? What are we praying for as a church? What are you praying for in your life?
  • What are we trying to preserve?  Our history?  Our traditions?  Our rituals?
  • What are we trying to advance? The Good news about Jesus Christ?
  • What are we afraid of losing?  What fears are keeping us inward focused instead of outward focused?
  • Are we comfortable in our own world or church and not concerned or passionate about those that don’t know Christ or are stuck in their faith?
  • Are we content with where we are at spiritually or hungry to advance and grow spiritually?
  • Are we as a church trying to keep what we have instead of reaching un-churched people or people that have given up on church?
  • If the local church is the hope of the world, then I want to invite you to fully participate in advancing the church.  Find a church where you can:

o   Attend, volunteer, give, connect, pray and take responsibility for all your relationships.  Find a place where your challenged, and encouraged to grow and be a part of something bigger than yourself.  Find a place where your children love going and are learning and growing and connecting with God and helping you as a parent to teach them about faith.

o   Commit to be both deep by doing what God tells us to do, loving well and wide by investing in people.

That Church

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Recently I had a conversation with some people that attend and volunteer at the church that I work at.  As we talked about some of the conversations they had at work and in the community, I heard several times that many of the people they talk to about church say “Oh you go to That Church”.  Now I’m guessing that the comment comes from people that are either already going to a church or grew up in church.  The reason I say that is because people that are familiar with church tend to have a picture of what a church should be like.  I know that I had those same thoughts when I first heard about NewPointe over 17 years ago. I questioned why they did certain things and why they didn’t do certain things.  But then I tried it and was changed forever, my picture of church was wrecked in a good way.

When a church comes along that doesn’t line up with our picture of the church we grew up with or currently attend, we will question the validity of that church.  Most people’s natural tendency is to poke fun or shoot holes in something they don’t understand.

I actually love that people would say you go to “That Church”.  That means that we are getting noticed and people are actually talking about church, maybe in a way that they have not talked before.  It leads to spiritual conversations and gets people thinking.  There is no perfect church, because there are no perfect people.  As a church leader I don’t claim to know it all or have the best way of doing things.  I want to create a place where people can connect with God and other people.

So here are some things I love about That Church, otherwise known as NewPointe Community Church:

  • I love that we accept and love everyone, no matter how they look, act or where they come from.
  • I love that we speak the truth openly and often and also extend grace openly and often.
  • I love that we are trying to be a church that unchurched  people love to attend.
  • I love that we are outward focused, wanting to reach as many people as possible.
  • I love that we try to lead people to take their next step spiritually no matter where they are at spiritually.  So no matter where someone is at with God, we want them to take another step closer.
  • I love that we partner with parents to help children and students grow spiritually.
  • I love that we are a generous church, giving our time, talent and treasure for God’s work.
  • I love that our messages are relevant, real and practical.
  • I love that we focus more on people than on programs.
  • I love that we use technology to reach people more effectively.
  • I love that we have a vision to reach Ohio and beyond with the Good News about Jesus Christ.
  • I love that we are creative and willing to try new and different things to reach and connect with people.
  • I love that we emphasize leadership and taking responsibility for all our relationships.
  • I love that we don’t need to put on a mask when we go to church and can be real.
  • I love that we use music to worship God and that we play it loud.
  • I love that we are willing to serve our community in practical ways to meet the needs of people and local organizations.
  • I love that we are willing to partner with other churches and organizations to make a difference in the world around us.
  • I love that we can laugh in church.
  • I love that we can drink coffee in church.
  • I love that we emphasize connecting in small groups and doing life with others.
  • I love that we deal with conflict directly and speak the truth in love to resolve conflicts.
  • I love that we know we don’t have all the answers and are willing to learn from others.
  • I love that people can come and worship God together from all walks of life.
  • I love my church – That Church!

 

Top Ten Relational Needs

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This week I taught a class entitled “The Top Ten Relational Needs”.  It is based on a workbook by that title from Great Commandment Network. 

God made us with needs, and God promised to meet those needs.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Paul is telling us that God is willing and able to meet all of our needs. It also acknowledges that we all have needs as human beings

Neediness is a characteristic of our God-given identities.

Physical needs:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Sleep
  • Oxygen

Spiritual needs:

  • To experience God’s love
  • To experience God’s forgiveness
  • To experience God’s peace
  • Only God Moments

Here are the Top Ten Relational Needs:

  • Acceptance
  • Affection
  • Appreciation
  • Approval
  • Attention
  • Comfort
  • Encouragement
  • Respect
  • Security
  • Support

These needs are the same for anyone, no matter where your from, no matter how young or old you are.

It’s OK to have needs, it doesn’t mean your weak.  When we understand our needs, it humbles us and builds our character.

Only God and other people can meet our needs.  Why did God create us this way?

  1. Our neediness Encourages us to depend on God and look to him to meet our needs
  2. Our neediness encourages interdependence – We are not robots, we have feelings and emotions and our neediness requires us to have healthy human relationships. We are here to serve one another.
  3. Accepting the reality of our needs helps us to develop a heart filled with compassion for others
  4. Admitting our needs frees us to receive and give care.
  5. Meeting the needs of others expresses care and produces unity in the body of Christ

My question for you is this.  Of the top ten relational needs listed above, which three are most important to you and which three are most important to your spouse or significant person in your life?  If you can figure that out and then communicate clearly to each other about it, your relationship will begin to improve.  You can control whether or not you are meeting these needs with others, you cannot control whether others will meet your needs.  However, if you are loving and serving the other person the likelihood of them meeting your needs goes way up.  If your too needy, that pushes everyone away from you.  You have to first meet the needs of others and show that you can do it in a healthy way.